Motor-enriched encoding can improve children’s early letter recognition

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It is not known how effective specific types of motor-enriched activities are at improving academic learning and early reading skills in children. The aim of this study was to investigate whether fine or gross motor enrichment during a single session of recognizing letters “b”/“d” can improve within-session performance or delayed retention the following day in comparison to letter recognition practice without movement. Furthermore, the aim was to investigate children’s motivation to perform the specific tasks. We used a randomized controlled intervention study-design to investigate the effect of 10-min motor-enriched “b”/“d” letter training on children’s ability to recognize the letters “b” and “d” (n = 127, mean age = 7.61 ± SD = 0.44 years) acutely, and in a delayed retention test. Three groups were included: a fine motor-enriched group (FME), a gross motor-enriched group (GME), that received 10 min of “b” and “d” training with enriched gestures (fine or gross motor movements, respectively), and a control group (CON), which received non motor-enriched “b”/“d” training. The children’s ability to recognize “b” and “d” were tested before (T0), immediately after (T1), and one day after the intervention (T2) using a “b”/“d” Recognition Test. Based on a generalized linear mixed model a significant group-time interaction was found for accuracy in the “b”/“d” Recognition Test. Specifically, FME improved their ability to recognize “b”/“d” at post intervention (T0→T1, p = 0.008) and one-day retention test (T0→T2, p < 0.001) more than CON. There was no significant difference in change between GME and CON. For reaction time there were no significant global interaction effects observed. However, planned post hoc comparisons revealed a significant difference between GME and CON immediately after the intervention (T0→T1, p = 0.03). The children’s motivation-score was higher for FME and GME compared to CON (FME-CON: p = 0.01; GME-CON: p = 0.01). The study demonstrated that fine motor-enriched training improved children’s letter recognition more than non motor activities. Both types of motor training were accompanied by higher intrinsic motivation for the children compared to the non motor training group. The study suggests a new method for motor-enriched letter learning and future research should investigate the underlying mechanisms.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1207
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Science - Motor-enriched, Academic learning, Children, Cognition, Letter recognition

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